The new top executive of the National Rural Health Association will focus her attention on keeping the trade group on solid financial ground while attracting new members.
Donna Williams, who has been with the NRHA's staff for more than 10 years, was named executive vice president this month (May 22, p. 4). She replaces Walter Pidgeon, who stepped down last December, after two years as executive director.
"I'm hoping to bring a new energy and excitement to the position while expanding our membership," Williams told MODERN HEALTHCARE at the association's annual meeting in Atlanta this month. "We're a volunteer organization, and we need to expand our volunteer base."
The organization's membership of 2,100 includes some 400 rural hospitals. Last year, the NRHA began allowing businesses to become members.
Unlike her predecessor, Williams will remain located in the NRHA's national service office in Kansas City, Mo. She said she will travel to Washington, where Pidgeon was based, every four weeks. The NRHA's staff consists of nine people in Kansas City and two in Washington.
The NRHA said it hopes to hire a vice president of public and government relations for the Washington office by next year. That person would be the NRHA's third staffer in the capital.
"We had a job description that was undoable, and we don't expect our CEO to be all things to all people," said Tim Size, former NRHA board secretary and executive director of the Rural Wisconsin Health Cooperative. "Donna has been the backbone of the (NRHA) in Kansas City. We don't want her spread too thin."
The organization's net income is projected near $70,000, but Size said board members want to increase that by another $100,000 by next year.
In the last two years, the organization has erased a deficit of more than $200,000. The NRHA launched a $1 million fund-raising campaign last year, but it has been slow getting off the ground. By the end of last year, $10,000 had been raised.